Hidden Temple – VR Adventure is a new game for the Gear VR that takes you underground in an escape-type puzzler. It’s all about searching multiple rooms for items which can be used or even combined to reveal the next piece of the puzzle, with the ultimate goal of escaping.
The developers at HandyGames have done a fantastic job with the graphics and interface. I’d consider the environment design to be the clear highlight of the game. It’s created in proper 3D in 360 degrees, unlike some Gear VR titles which appear as a 2D environment projected in 360 degrees. The developers went out of their way to make the rooms as detailed as possible; there are a series of visual details that add up to a well-designed environment, including bats, spiders, webs, dust, bones, hanging chains and vines, and even dislodged bricks on the wall that give more depth. I honestly don’t have any criticisms regarding graphics and design.
Navigating from room to room is handled well; there are arrows that can be selected which take you into the room of your choosing. Once in a room, you’re placed in the centre and can access anything from that position, cleverly removing the need for locomotion within rooms. When your cursor is aimed over objects that can be used or collected, you’ll notice that it becomes animated, so you don’t have to wonder if you’re missing something that should be clickable. All items are collected in your item bag, which can always be accessed by looking down and selecting it.
Although a gamepad is supported, this is one of the few games in which I preferred to use the gaze controls. Using the gaze option on my second playthrough, I was quite pleased with its ease of use, so much so that I actually recommend gaze controls over the gamepad on Hidden Temple. Note that you’ll be required to look in 360 degrees to search your entire surroundings, so you may prefer to play standing or in a swivel chair.
The game starts off with you descending into the hidden temple, but once your rope breaks, you’ll need to find an alternate exit. You’ll collect objects that can be combined with other objects – such as a stick and fabric that combine to make a torch – and other things such as idols, keys and gold. You’ll need to use these objects with the environment in order to reveal the next required item and unlock the next series of rooms, until you ultimately escape.
The puzzles are never overly difficult, but there were times that I temporarily felt stuck. However, it was never long before I realized what needed to be done and felt silly for not solving it sooner. There are clues within the environment that should help if you’re ever stuck, and you have the option of turning on clues in the start menu, in which the game basically tells you what to do when you look at an obstacle. I’d recommend leaving the clues off and sticking with the more subtle clues, unless you’re really stuck. The developers were kind enough to make sure you cannot use items incorrectly, so you can basically try every object in every situation until you solve that current scenario and move on to the next.
I certainly enjoyed the experience overall, but there were a few things that I thought could be improved. Firstly, the game is short and some people may not feel that they’re getting their money’s worth in terms of game length. Even with slow progress, you’ll struggle to take more than an hour to complete the entire game. On my second attempt, I completed the game in roughly 30 minutes, perhaps less. That’s because the puzzles do not alter in subsequent plays, and this lends itself to a lack of replayability in terms of challenge. It’s up to you to determine if you value a good experience over duration; it seems to be a reoccurring theme with many Gear VR titles. I wouldn’t go as far as saying this is more like a demo, because I do feel that it’s truly a complete game, but the $5 price tag may make some potential purchasers hesitate at such short gameplay if you highly value more play time per dollar spent. However, if you have no problem spending $5 on a fun, well-designed game, I don’t think you’ll have any issues here.
My second criticism about the game is the gold that is collected. Enter a new room? Grab that sweet loot! Break open a (potentially invaluable) vase? Hopefully, you’ll score more gold! There is gold just about everywhere, and your gold count within your item purse just keeps going up and up. Naturally, you’re going to collect as much as possible, right? Well, *SPOILER ALERT*, it goes completely unused the entire time. Sure, you’ll escape with a big treasure, I suppose, but it won’t do you any good. You’ll never need to purchase anything in the game, in fact, that’s not even a part of the game. Realistically, I’m making a big deal over a small issue, but I was just a little disappointed.
My final criticism is more about a missed opportunity, and this incorporates my second criticism about the dump truck full of gold with no way to spend it. No, I’m not suggesting an in-game store at all. I think this game would benefit significantly from achievements. Think about it, there could be a series of achievements in the game that would add to the search, which is the focus of the game. There could be a “find all the gold” achievement that would give the gold collection more purpose. There could be other collectible items scattered around. There could be a “fail to escape” achievement that’s awarded for trying to escape back up the broken rope. There could be a “find 10 spiders” achievement, a “search 5 skeletons” achievement, and so on. Giving the user more objectives would be a simple addition that would potentially make this game feel complete. Again, this is just a lofty suggestion, the game is still enjoyable in its current form.
HandyGames has put together a well-designed, enjoyable puzzler with Hidden Temple – VR Adventure. The environments are some of the best in current Gear VR games, movement between rooms never made me feel queasy, and the puzzles were satisfying, if not a little too easy. Some puzzles were more challenging, but I never felt stuck for more than a few minutes. You’ll need to decide if you value gameplay or play time more. If you’re looking for a high-quality, entertaining title and you’re not too concerned about $5, I’d say to go for it. If you’re on a limited budget and you feel burned by short games, you’ll have to decide for yourself on this one. For what it’s worth, the gameplay itself is very well executed, but a few more rooms/puzzles and perhaps even some achievements would remove any doubt about the price of admission.